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The Contemporary Craftsman – Pushing The Craftsman Envelope

Contemporary Craftsman

Contemporary Craftsman of 3105 Pacific Avenue, Manhattan Beach

If you’ve traveled down Pacific Avenue in the Manhattan Beach Tree section between Rosecrans and Valley, you’ve probably spotted this home at 3105 Pacific Avenue.

Designed by local architect Stephen Jones as his family’s personal residence, he dubbed the style “Contemporary Craftsman” in a recent Wall Street Journal article (“Home Buyers Embrace The Contemporary Craftsman Look“).

3105 Pacific Living Room

3105 Pacific Living Room

The craftsman look seems to be enjoying something of a resurgence of interest lately – but not the craftsman style as defined by traditionalists.  Rather, what we’re seeing now is a craftsman style that has been modified to fit how families live today.

So, for example, the contemporary craftsman will include traditional elements like exposed beams and lots of natural stone and built-in woodwork but with a modern flair, like high ceilings, light colors and fireplaces with lots of stone or woodwork extending well above the mantel.

As Jamie Roche, CEO of Houseplans, noted in that same Wall Street Journal article, while homeowners want their homes to look like a craftsman on the outside, “they want the new floor plan for the way we live now.  The most commonly sold floor plan features a combined kitchen, family and dining room and a large master suite with walk-in closets.”  The home design ideas web site, Houzz, also has a huge selection of photos and design ideas cataloged under Modern Craftsman.

However, some find the phrase ‘contemporary craftsman’ a contradiction in terms.  One developer who is building a community of homes in Arizona designed by students and faculty of the Frank Lloyd Wright School of Architecture, even objected to the use of the term.  “Contemporary craftsman is oxymoronic. Please don’t call me that,” said Mr. Stapp, President of Cahava Springs Development in Scottsdale, AZ.

616 29th Street

616 29th Street, Manhattan Beach

Locally, we saw a number of craftsman homes designed and built by Nick Schaar, prior to the bursting of the housing bubble, that incorporated modern features like an open floor plan and a spacious master suite.

Take, for example, his construction at 616 29th Street in the Manhattan Beach Tree section, circa 2005.  This shingle-style home featured a simple front with triangular supports at the corners of the eaves (in lieu of exposed rafter tails), goose-neck lighting over the garage and copper gutters and downspouts.  There is also a dutch front door with a stained glass insert and  flush inset cabinets with simple drawer and door fronts, two other Nick Schaar craftsman staples.

But inside, the first floor great room is virtually without walls, a simple cased opening separating the living room and family room with the latter also opening to the kitchen, dining room and backyard.

Another craftsman that actually pre-dates Nick’s work was the custom-built (in 1999) Louie Tomaro-designed home at 3521 Walnut Avenue in the Tree section.  While Louie is more known for Spanish and Italian-style villas, here he tried his hand (successfully, we think) at an earlier version of a modern craftsmen.

Again, the open floor plan and high ceilings favored in current construction were combined with an abundance of interior woodwork and cabinetry as well as a shingle and stone exterior trimmed with blue-green eaves, posts and fascia.

This 4-bedroom home was offered for sale last year, went under contract at that time and just recently closed a year-long escrow at what would appear to be a bargain price by today’s standards – $1.7 million (we hear it can be purchased today off-market for $2.4 million).

656 Marine Avenue

656 Marine Avenue, Manhattan Beach

But the quintessential take on a modern craftsman still has to be 656 Marine Avenue, which was constructed in the Manhattan Beach Tree section in 1994.

This home, custom-built for the owners, first hit the market in 2000.  Even then, the listing was touting this as a “Greene and Greene” inspired craftsman “blending the look and feel of a bygone era with the benefits of modern technology” (we wonder what the agent meant by modern ‘technology’ back well before there were smart homes.  A self-cleaning oven perhaps?).

In any case, this 4-bedroom, 2792 sq.ft. home may very well have kick-started the whole contemporary craftsman look here in the South Bay.  Note the front porch with swing seat!  A nice touch that should have pleased the purists.


Predictions For The Real Estate Market in 2015

Real Estate Edge by Mike Michalski & Sachi Fujita

Most experts are forecasting an increase in both the number of homes sold and home sale prices nationwide for 2015. Read their predictions here.

New Home Price Record? Missed It By That Much

Real Estate Edge by Mike Michalski & Sachi Fujita

Now that 1904 The Strand in Manhattan Beach has closed for an eye-popping sale price of $15,750,000, the question immediately come to mind “Is this a record high home sale price in Manhattan Beach?” Surprisingly, due to two separate off-market sales – one in the Hill section and another a corner Strand lot – the answer is no. Read more here.

Cash Is King At The Beach

Real Estate Edge by Mike Michalski & Sachi Fujita

Buying all cash with no mortgage? Why? Here are some reasons.

Hermosa Valley High?

Real Estate Edge by Mike Michalski & Sachi Fujita

Looks like the developers of a massive Hermosa Valley home on El Oeste Drive (still under construction) are intent on setting a new sale price record for this neighborhood by a country mile. Read more here.

Nondisclosure of Defects in Residential Sales – Seller Beware!

Real Estate Edge by Mike Michalski & Sachi Fujita

Almost every residential real estate sale requires the seller to complete a transfer disclosure statement, also known in the industry as a TDS. This 3-page form compels the seller to tell the buyer everything about the home that could adversely and materially affect its value. But we’ve seen cases – two in Manhattan Beach – where the seller appeared not to disclose a material defect or nuisance to the buyer. Read more here.

What $2 Million Buys in Manhattan Beach – 2007 to Present

Real Estate Edge by Mike Michalski & Sachi Fujita

So what will $2 million buy in Manhattan Beach? Over the last seven years, the answer to that question has changed dramatically. Read more here.

When Will The Fed Raise Rates?

Real Estate Edge by Mike Michalski & Sachi Fujita

“Federal Reserve Chair Janet Yellen whispered ‘Bang’ but did not shoot,” according to Lou Barnes (Inman Real Estate News contributor). What does this mean for interest rates? Read more here.

Fisher Queen Nets A Cool $2 Million Profit

Real Estate Edge by Mike Michalski & Sachi Fujita

Back in 2008, with the world financial markets in turmoil and the local residential real estate market in the tank, two spectacular contemporary homes designed by Aidlin Darling Design out of San Francisco debuted on the market at 1208 and 1212 Fisher Avenue in the American Martyrs area of Manhattan Beach. One of those two recently resold for a cool $2 million profit (assuming escrow closes). Read more here.

Strand Prices Continue To Surprise On The Upside

Real Estate Edge by Mike Michalski & Sachi Fujita

Whoever said “Trees don’t grow to the sky” (an old Wall Street maxim) probably hadn’t contemplated what low interest rates , low inventory and a suddenly hot destination real estate market would have on beachfront properties here in Manhattan Beach. But given all that, some sellers are making an absolute killing on the sale of their Strand lots. Read more here.

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